Despite a nationwide recall issued in 2015, some 15.4 million vehicles in the United States are still equipped with Takata air bags that pose a potentially deadly risk to drivers and passengers. The recall involves 19 different automakers and more than 150 model and year combinations. AAA is urging drivers to determine if their vehicle is affected by the recall and, if it is, to have the air bag repaired – at no cost – as soon as possible.
“Takata air bag repairs are made free of charge at auto dealerships across the country, but there are still nearly 17 million defective air bags in more than 15 million vehicles on our roadways,” said John Paul, Senior Manager of Traffic Safety for AAA Northeast. “We encourage vehicle owners to take the recall very seriously and get these air bags off the road now. There’s no sense in losing lives to a defect that can be fixed for free.”
AAA first raised concerns about Takata air bags several years ago, as dangerous malfunctions began to be reported across the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a nationwide recall of the faulty air bags in May 2015. Initially, replacement parts were in short supply, forcing drivers to wait weeks to have work done. Parts for most vehicles are now generally available.
“The repair work itself can usually be completed in a few hours,” said Mr. Paul. “That may not be particularly convenient, but it’s a small sacrifice to protect yourself and the people in your life.”
So far, more than two-thirds – about 40 million – of all recalled Takata air bags have been repaired, leaving about one-third – or 16.6 million – still needing replacement. NHTSA cautions that more recalls are pending so the total numbers will likely change.
Manufactured by the Takata Corp., the air bags contain a faulty inflator that, over time, can degrade and cause the air bag to rupture in an accident sending metal fragments toward vehicle occupants. Since 2009, at least 16 people in the U.S. have been killed and more than 250 injured by defective Takata air bag inflators, according to NHTSA.
Drivers can check their vehicle by visiting NHTSA’s recall website -- www.nhtsa.gov/recalls -- and by entering their vehicle identification number, or VIN. The 17-character VIN is found on the driver’s side dashboard near the windshield. It can also be found on the vehicle registration or insurance card. If a vehicle is under recall, the owner should contact their local dealer and schedule a free repair.
The recall site, AAA notes, is useful for all vehicle owners. They can enter the VIN of the car or truck they own – or are looking to buy – to see if it’s part of the Takata – or any other – recall.
To find a dealership that is also a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop, visit aaa.com/autorepair. AAA certified shops undergo rigorous inspections and provide members with discounts, longer warranties and peace of mind support.